Saturday, January 8, 2011

Culture, nature, and mediation « The Immanent Frame

Culture, nature, and mediation « The Immanent Frame
The article/review starts like this:
"religion is about mediation. Ironically so, because it is about the divine; but because the divine is never directly available, religion must instead be about how the divine is indirectly manifest. Thus, as Régis Debray has shown in his God: an Itinerary, monotheism, which is apparently the most other-worldly and non-mediated of creeds, has had to identify itself in concrete terms, which may bizarrely include preference for some landscapes over others, or for association with some animals over others."
Here is one of the tricky dilemmas that this article points to: If as it seems Pentecostalism has done more to ameliorate the "conditions of abjection" faced by the world's poor, can a credible claim be mounted that this brand of Christianity holds legitimacy for a more just world.
"However, Pentecostalism has by and large endorsed the capitalist market and the gospel of success, even if it has also developed many compensating voluntary welfare ventures, which should by no means be despised."
The author contends that mediation is a central feature in solving this dilemma. This is fascinating stuff to be sure. But it is worth paying attention to for more than just the fun of playing on some intellectual monkey bars - no pun intended. People who care about how religion manifests real change in the world ought to think about this stuff. I'm not talking about evaluating Pectecostalism over against other denominations (although clearly that discussion is available). I am suggesting that in the efforts to affect the betterment of the oppressed masses (whom we should acknowledge are oppressed in large part due to the ideologies that support our relative affluence) religion ought to be aware of how powerfully they can entrench ideological frames that serve to reinforce the conditions of abjection.
This article and the material it reviews is well worth the read...

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